Using a credit card to buy one Atomic Fireball? Priceless.

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The night before any holiday where greeting cards are involved, I wind up at the stationery store. My goal is always to spend $1.99 (plus tax). But since I don't carry that kind of cash, I have to whip out the plastic. And whipping out the plastic means I must also grab an extravagant bow, holiday-appropriate candy corn, and a stuffed Mr. T rear-view mirror accessory.

The purchase of these ridiculous items is dictated by a sign taped to the register. Scrawled in green marker on notebook paper with maddeningly frayed edges, the sign says, "Minimum Credit Card Purchase $10."

And according to Bottom Line Personal, a magazine I didn't realize I received, that sign violates the terms and conditions imposed by Visa and MasterCard.

"Did you know that merchants who accept Visa and MasterCard cannot require a minimum purchase? If a merchant insists on a minimum purchase amount, contact your card issuer to complain."

The Consumerist has the actual wording, from Visa:

"Always honor valid Visa cards, in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts is a violation."

Now, your local merchants might argue that paying credit card fees on miniscule purchases eliminates their profit margins. And that sounds pretty reasonable. But my point is this -- if you wind up a few dollars short of an arbitrary limit, and you're the kind of person who argues about signs taped to cash registers, you won't have to walk out with unwanted purchases.

Or you can just start carrying around more cash.  Anyone have any good/embarrassing stories of stuff you bought to reach a minimum purchase limit?

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November 27, 2006 - 5:44am
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